Assessing UVa's Response to August Violence

Sep 8, 2017

At yesterday's Facuty Senate meeting, UVa President Teresa Sullivan presented the actions the university has taken since the events of August 11 and 12. She was accompanied by Risa Goluboff, Dean of the School of Law and chair of a UVa working group of deans and community members to assess the University's response to the events. WMRA’s Marguerite Gallorini reports.

These included a review of the application of its safety alert protocols; the hiring of a higher education safety and security consulting firm; and increased police coverage across Grounds. Faculty Senator Sylvia Chong expressed her concern that more policing would not translate into more security, but into more policing of only a certain segment of the population.

Risa Goluboff, in charge of a deans working group, added that they were looking at having a longer-term institutional response through the teaching and research done at UVa. They identified three main areas: social justice and civil rights; the relationship between free speech and community; and that of free speech with the more recent right to bear arms – indeed the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms was only in 2008.

After an hour of Q/A, Teresa Sullivan concluded by acknowledging the main mistake that was made that weekend:

TERESA SULLIVAN: We thought what we were having was a routine protest march. Understand we have about 30 protest marches a year at the University. But we were wrong about the playbook. This was not about free speech; this was about weaponizing free speech, and turning it into something else. And the playbook we really need is more like a playbook for domestic terrorism. I think it’s clear we weren’t ready for that.